Time to write another more personal post as I resolved to sound less like a guide book and more like a human being from time to time as I write this blog. So this time I’m taking stock on what I love the most about travelling. I mean, it’s not always easy and it’s definitely not always glamorous. I’ve written about how poor we are, how sick we’ve ended up getting and some dreadful journeys we’ve taken. We’ve been robbed, scammed and had plenty of unpleasant moments over the last 9 months of our worldwide adventures but there’s got to be some reason that we keep going!
I definitely didn’t expect to love travelling as much as I do. I was incredibly nervous before we started our trip, and expected that after 6/7 months away I’d be more than ready to head home and get back to a more conventional lifestyle. How wrong I was, and if I had the choice I’d keep travelling like this forever. So why do I love travelling so much?
Obsessive Planning & Lots of Learning
Firstly, I’m a massive control freak and a geek. Turns out travelling is the perfect way for me to harness my love of planning and organisation. I love planning travel itineraries, researching everything about the countries that we visit and sickeningly I still leap out of bed almost every morning with a to do list of exploring and learning about where we’re staying. We were supposed to be in Thailand to relax, so far in less than a week we’ve explored some stunning colonial architecture, hiked a local waterfall, enjoyed a traditional Thai new year, eaten at the island’s best restaurant, planned an overnighter to a nearby island and spent 2 hours driving around the south of the island because I love planning things to do. So much for relaxing!
The travelling version of me applies my organisational skills to creating some amazing to do lists that are way more exciting than my old office based ones. I literally treat travelling like my new full time job, with the dedication and methodical approach I applied to my old one, which is weird but awesome. I’d like to say that I’ve learnt to not be such a control freak and to go with the flow more, but I don’t think that’s going to happen. Maybe I’m a bit more like that, but not much.
A Sense of Freedom
My second favourite thing about travelling, although it’s probably my actual favourite but this list isn’t in order (not so organised now), is the freedom of travel. Yes we plan, but we plan around exactly what we want to do and can be very selfish about how we choose to spend our time. I’m not sure if associating freedom with selfishness is entirely the right way to describe it, but travel gives us the freedom to do exactly what we want. I mean, we have to work still so we can keep travelling but that’s about our only responsibility. We’re free to stay in one place for a bit or choose to move on, we can have a week of hiking and waterfalls or a week of history and museums. We can go to China or Thailand, India or Bali. Within reason we’re pretty much free to do whatever we want and it’s the first and probably the only time in our adult lives that we’ll be able to live like this.
We were very responsible before we went travelling, and had a great sense of duty in terms of things like family responsibilities, the responsibilities that came with our jobs and all sorts of other normal adult responsibilities that become part of life once you’re in your twenties. Maintaining a house, holding down a job, building a career, ticking all those boxes that responsible people tick. I think these are all important and I’m sure we’ll head back to all of these and enjoy living up to responsibilities again in the future but it’s amazing to be so selfish and free and reckless for a while. Very out of character but very fun.
Hiking and Nature
I’ll talk about hiking a little more later on as it’s a massive part of this list of favourites, but firstly it fits in the context of nature more generally. I grew up fairly rurally, and have never lived in a city or a big town, but unlike many who lived in the countryside, I never really got nature. I wouldn’t have dreamed of getting up to see a sunrise for example, and didn’t really spend enough (read any) time outside.
We got a dog a year or so before going travelling, and part of the reason for this was to force us to spend more time outside. We knew it was good for us, but just lacked the motivation. To be honest, even when we did go on long dog walks I don’t think I really appreciated nature all that much.
Travelling has completely changed that and I’m a huge believer that getting outside every single day, out of choice just because I love it, has been one of the best things for me about this trip. It’s helped my physical health, my mental health and I’ve just fallen in love with so many of the different landscapes we’ve been lucky enough to explore. Forests, coastlines, deserts, and just about every single type of natural landscape you can image has blown me away with its beauty at least once on this trip. CHEESY BUT TRUE.
All the Food
Food is massively important to me. I love food, sometimes too much, and eating different food from all over the world has been so much fun. We’ve tried some insane things that I never thought I’d be brave enough to eat, and returned to old favourites in all sorts of different countries that we wouldn’t have imagined even being in. Whether it was the best spaghetti bolognese I’ve ever eaten in Chile, or tentatively eating snails and chicken gizzards at a market in Taiwan, I’ve got so many good memories of enjoying food all over the world.
Escaping the Comfort Zone
I don’t think I mean this in the traditional way, I mean everyone knows that getting out of your comfort zone and really feeling it is a common experience when you travel. What I’ve really loved is getting out of my comfort zone, feeling that anxiety in the pit of my stomach and feeling like that sensation is justified and that it means I’ve hit a problem I need to work out. Whether it’s getting lost, or not being able to communicate what I need or taking on a physical challenge that I’m not sure if I can manage, feeling that dread of being hopelessly out of my comfort zone and just dealing with it has been strangely great.
I used to feel that anxiety a lot, especially at work, but I never felt like it was really justified and I used to let it bother me a lot rather than just accepting it and moving on to deal with what caused it. Silly things like public speaking and dealing with conflict really held me back and left me in a bad way at times, but when I’ve felt that way on this trip I’ve been much better at just getting on with it. I cried the night before we started our trek to Machu Picchu because I didn’t think I’d be able to do it, and nearly had a panic attack at the thought of getting into the water to snorkel at the Great Barrier Reef, but I never would have dreamt of not doing these things, so just had to buckle up and get on with them which has been a travel favourite.
Enjoying Meeting People
Again, a bit different as most people will talk about how meeting new people was one of their favourite travel experiences, but for me it’s the feeling of actually enjoying meeting those new people that’s been pretty great. I’ve talked before about my somewhat anti social tendencies and how funny my friends and family found the thought of me having to making small talk with loads of new people, but even I was surprised by how much I’ve liked meeting all the new people we’ve travelled with on the journey.
Whether it’s people who we’ve bumped into and spent a night out with, those who we’ve met for a few hours on a tour or even the ones we travelled with for longer and ended up staying in touch with, it’s been awesome to enjoy meeting loads of new people rather than feeling awkward and like I’d really rather not bother starting a conversation.
I never really had too many hobbies and as a child it used to drive my parents up the wall a bit. I read a lot of books, but never got into the many lessons and classes they sent me to to try and get me out of my shell and to help me find a hobby. Ballet dancing, piano, flute, recorder, guides, embroidery (!), and so many others all came and went as I lost interest, or came clean about the fact I’d never even been interested to start with.
I’ve managed to rediscover a love of books and reading that I thought I’d lost after uni, as well as finding some new things that I really enjoy – writing this blog, attempting photography and of course, hiking. As someone who could never have been described as outdoorsy, I’m so surprised by how much I’ve found I enjoy hiking and walking and definitely want to keep it up. I want to take a photography course at some point, and 100% want to try and keep blogging.
So that list was longer than I expected…
So there you have it, although this post got a little more in depth and personal than I was intending. I actually still really struggle with the idea of things like this going out there on the internet for everyone to read, I’m not sure if all bloggers feel that way? I suppose there’s nothing to lose though, and it’s yet another boundary of that comfort zone to try and push through…